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The world is officially in "Countdown to Christmas" mode and now, so are we. Every day until Christmas we'll be featuring a hotel that's in a holiday mood--whether it be with gigantic gingerbread houses, over-the-top Christmas decorations, thrilling lighting displays and best of all, Santa appearances. But of course, any hotel can assemble a fake tree, put on some lights and declare themselves "festive." Which is why we're looking at hotels that are really going ALL OUT. Know of a hotel that's super excited for Christmas? Let us know!
The Goring (who, as of two weeks ago, became the only London member of Relais & Châteaux) recently unveiled what is, undoubtedly, London’s most unconventional and quintessentially British Christmas tree.
The tree, called “Christmas Rain,” is part of a collection of Christmas trees created for the hotel by British luxury brands. This one is the focal point, though, standing tall at 30 feet in The Goring’s garden, and designed by a fellow Royal Warrant Holder and Britain’s leading rainwear specialist, Fulton Umbrellas (they’re famous for their see-through umbrellas favored by the Royal Family including Wills and Kate and, we expect, little Prince George will follow in their rain-booted footsteps). Rather than regular glass baubles, the tree is decorated with bespoke Fulton umbrellas (ever-at-the-ready for the traditional Christmas rain shower) and a shimmering shower of mirrored raindrops arranged in a waterfall of crystals, beading and sequins.
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It's beginning to feel a lot like...a tropical Christmas?
Hotel delays exasperate us. Booking last-minute hotels sometimes stresses us out. So excuse us while we take a minute and just focus on the one thing that's guaranteed to bring us some joy: big, bright, colorful, and unnecessarily elaborate hotel Christmas displays.
Go on, click through our photo gallery and let the holiday magic unfold!
It's truethere are quite a few hotels around the world with the word "Palace" in their names. It's at the New York Palace Hotel, however, that you actually find a prince and princess. Cinderella and Prince Charming showed up to the hotel's Madison Avenue courtyard yesterday evening to kick off the holiday season, light the Christmas tree, promote the upcoming Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella Broadway musical, and hint that they'll be dropping back in every so often during brunch at the hotel.
Stopping into the couryard to view the tree is free, of course, but to try a little of Cinderella's NYC lifestyle you'll have to pay. The season brings not only a special weekend brunch, but also a Cinderella-themed room package.
Though we have to wait until May 2013 to watch the film, the holiday tree inspired by the upcoming movie Gatsby was just unveiled within The Plaza. The tree sits inside the hotel's famous Palm Court and, just like the movie, was designed and dressed by Catherine Martin, costume/set/production designer, film producer and wife of Baz Luhrmann.
Yesterday evening at the debut, we asked Catherine if the finished tree matched her original vision. "Yes and, from the first, I wanted the hundreds of 'JG' monograms you'll find on it," she replied. "I hope that this would be the sort of tree Jay Gatsby would have in his foyer."
And the biggest challenge to making this vision reality? "Getting this 900-lb tree to turn!"
Last minute alert! Tonight, The Plaza Hotel will not only officially light its Christmas tree, but will debut the holiday themed tea. For many, especially Home Alone purists, the holiday spirit doesn't kick into gear until The Plaza goes through this ritual, and 2012 is going to be especially glitzy.
Why? Because the theme for both the tree and tea is Gatsby! Yes, as in they are teaming up with the Baz Luhrmann movie version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic 1920s novel to apply the roaring 20s glamor to this festive season, even though the movie's release date has been pushed back to late spring 2013.
A couple of these come from the hotels clustered at Pacific Place but we've also got one from Kowloon and the Tai Koo Shing nabe. We actually had quite a few more but we lost our camera in a red taxi the night before we left. Maybe the return of our camera (or at least our memory stick full of hotel rooms, hotel Christmas trees, hotel exteriors, hotel cocktails, an interview with a hotel concierge and a daytrip to Macau) will be our Christmas miracle this year. Yeah, we won't count on it.
Here's hoping you all get a little something naughty and nice under your Christmas tree this weekend! We'll be back on Tuesday with more hotel news and reviews as well as the annual HotelChatter year-end awards! Now excuse us, there's some egg nog that needs to be drunk.
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...And the award for most literal Christmas decorations in a hotel goes to the W New York. Walking into the lobby, it's a little tinsel tree and a few metallic mosaic tchotchkes all around, but go straight ahead and you'll see it: a TREE. No, really.
Their faux Christmas tree vertically spells out "T R E E." Sure, at first we just thought it was an awkwardly cube-shaped tree as W's attempt to be edgy, but it's so much more than that. It's...letters. Hmm.
Forever in search of Christmas cheer (even with only two days to go!), we poked our heads inside the Dream Downtown to see what they had cooked up. And boy were we not disappointed! The entire lobby has been transformed into a winter wonderland. From the snow white peacock greeting visitors at the front door, to the giant polar bear towering over by the back windows, you feel like Santa's about to walk in at any moment. The friendly-looking reindeer peeking out from behind a cluster of evergreen trees (above) certainly doesn't detract from the illusion either!
As it turns, the hotel enlisted the services of an upstate New York taxidermist, who, apparently, did such a great job that Dream is now considering making the as-yet-unnamed polar bear a permanent member of the space. Unsurprisingly, the feedback from guests has been extremely positive. What bad things are there to say about a polar bear?
...the Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia! We got sent a photo yesterday of their colorful, bright, silk-adorned tree, which manages to make our tree at home look about as elegant as a bundle of twigs with a star on top.
But then again, we don't normally hire a Paris-educated couturier to design our tree, now do we?
Internationally-acclaimed designer Eric Raisina, who relocated to Siam Reap because of the region's native silk, and who has created textiles for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix, decided to use the lotus flower as his inspiration for the tree, citing its associations with "purity." Hats off to him, because this is definitely one of the coolest trees we've seen yet, with its bright blossoms and irregular shape, looking like it sprouted straight out of the hotel lobby floor.
Although there's still several more days to go until you can rip through the presents underneath the Christmas tree, Hanukkah started last time, meaning gifts are already being opened as the candles of the menorah are lit, day-by-day. And although almost every hotel lobby wouldn't be caught without a massive Christmas tree, it's actually pretty rare to find a hotel menorah.
One standby for finding a menorah is the Waldorf-Astoriathe original on Park Avenue in New York City. Enter through the Park Ave doors and head up the stairs, past the Christmas trees and underneath the chandelier. Keep going and just before you hit the main reception area with its classic art deco details, you'll see this 5' tall gold menorah.
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This month, guests at the gold-loving hotel won't be blindsided by a tree that's wearing more expensive jewelry than they are. Adorning the tree instead are custom-made Christmas balls from the Netherlands, and gold and silver foil ribbons. For good measure, the hotel also threw in some Christmas carolers. Who sang from gold-plated manuscripts atop gold podiums with gold plates on their teeth. A modest affair, really.
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This is the kind of Christmas tree that you do not want to have around the house—because if you did, you'd just end up eating it.
Luckily, this 10-foot-tall beauty, made entirely of chocolate (white, dark, milk, fondant, you name it, it's on there), is on view inside the Jumeirah Essex House, which luckily isn't a place we frequent very often.
The chocolate theme is continued into the rest of the lobby with a weekend-only Chocolate Bar. Boy, this hotel is pressing allll the right buttons. Included in the mouth-watering buffet are a chocolate fountain, assorted truffles and house-made hot chocolate. Tickets go for $35 a head, but if you bump it up to $49, they'll throw in a glass of champagne.